Comey talks to the media following second testimony
Comey testified to Congress for the second time today. He talked to the media afterwards. We should get a transcript sometime soon.
He says he was asked about "which form people filled out". This is either a reference to the 302s about the Flynn interview, or the procedures necessary to initiate a sensitive political investigation (which he previously admitted to not knowing or following).
He admits that he "took a decision away from Sally Yates" to avoid the appearance of political bias, which is the same reasoning he used when announcing that he would not recommend prosecuting Clinton himself (because Lynch was compromised by the tarmac meeting and other, unspecified, information). He says he did this "to make it necessary for Trump to burn down the entire FBI to stop the investigation" and was shocked that Trump was willing to do just that. He seems to think he is acting in a completely non-partisan manner and all his actions, no matter how improper or obviously partisan, are above reproach. It's disgusting.
Asked if he takes any responsibility for the hit the reputation of the FBI has taken, he blames Trump for "lying". That's bullshit; Comey was at the head of the agency while it behaved in a nakedly partisan manner to influence the Presidential election in 2016. Blaming Trump for the actions in which Trump was a victim is absurd, and he wasn't in office for the Clinton investigation.
He blames others and says they should be ashamed for being silent. This is the man who said he couldn't remember or didn't know under oath over 200 times.
He's "proud" of the way the FBI interviewed Flynn, despite admitting previously he "took advantage" of the chaos in the incoming administration.
He won't comment on whether the memos he leaked were classified. Of course not. That would embarrass him.
Guess what, Comey? You are a weasel who does weasel things.
BOMBSHELL: Comey likely knew about the Trump tower meeting in June 2016
Why is this important? The meeting happened June 9th, and the investigation didn't open until the end of July, and Comey says he can't answer because the question touches on Mueller's investigation. But if he didn't know about the meeting he could answer that. If he knew, and can't answer, it's because it was related to the Mueller investigation -- which didn't exist at the time.
So Comey knew about the meeting before the investigation opened in July.
How? Did he get the information from Steele, or Perkins-Coie through Baker, or surveillance on Trump?
BOMBSHELL: Comey stumbles on Baker's contact with Perkins-Coie
Baker, FBI general counsel at the time, has testified that he received information from Perkins-Coie and passed it on to others. He said this was unusual ("unique", even). Comey is claiming to have absolutely no knowledge of this. Would Baker have done that and never mentioned it to Comey? Seems unlikely. My gut tells me Comey is lying here, and that he knew it was going on. Comey is claiming tips like that happened all the time, and he wants to see what Baker testified to before he answers. This is serious stumbling by Comey.
BOMBSHELL: Comey can't hold the end of July timeline!
Comey can't dance fast enough. He first denies any information gathering about Trump at the FBI before the last week of July, then walks it back and admits "it's possible I knew at the time." It was absolutely going on, and he absolutely knew about it (and still does, but he has to claim a memory lapse to avoid talking about it).
Manafort's passports do not show trips to meet Assange
So, maybe one stamp in 2016, but it might also be 2010. I imagine the date of that last stamp can probably be proven with other data. Even if Manafort was in London, it doesn't prove he met with Assange, but the lack of stamps relevant to all of the claimed meetings throws serious doubt on the accusations.
A new tidbit about Alexander Downer, Australian 007
The Australian diplomat who spoke to George Papadopoulus in a wine bar about Russians and may or may not have spoken about emails turns out to be a former Australian Minister of Foreign Affairs. The Australian counterpart to the CIA reports directly to that position.
Gee, that doesn't sound like a setup at all, does it?
Over at Conservative Treehouse, there's a good explanation for something that has been puzzling me: the bizarre plea bargain of James Wolfe, which transformed the crime of leaking classified information to the media into a much lesser charge of lying to the FBI. The transition from a full-bore prosecution of leakers to a much reduced plea bargain now makes sense. What happened?
First, Sessions ordered a leak investigation, and that took place. It turned up (presumably among others) James Wolfe, who (as a staffer for the Senate intelligence committee) leaked classified information to (again among others) Ali Watkins. Everything was going swimmingly; he was arrested, charges were in the process, and so on.
Second, James Wolfe said he would go to trial, and that he would call Senators to testify in his defense. Presumably, he would say they ordered him to release the information, so it was not unauthorized. This became publicly known, and functions essentially as a blackmail threat, only in public. Suddenly, Senators are interested in helping with his defense.
Third, details of the indictment against Wolfe are leaked. The details basically prove that Wolfe leaked the unredacted Carter Page FISA warrant to the media.
Fourth, suddenly Wolfe gets a sweet plea deal and no need to call Senators to testify at his trial, which won't happen.
The question is, what happened between steps Three and Four?
The answer appears to be: The revelation that the leaked material was involved in the Russian Collusion investigation shifted supervision of the leak inquiry from AG Sessions to Rod Rosenstein due to Sessions' recusal from Russia matters. Rosenstein promptly plea-bargained with Wolfe to protect the Senators who participated in SpyGate.
That plea bargain demonstrates conclusively which side Rosenstein is on, and it isn't the side of Truth, Justice, and the Trump way.
Rosenstein must be removed from supervision of anything related to SpyGate. Removing Sessions, and his recusal bubble, is the simplest way the President can do that. And preventing a Senate-confirmed non-conflicted AG from taking over Rosenstein's current supervisory role is why Whitaker is under withering attack and the vote counts in Florida and possibly Arizona are being manipulated to keep the Republicans in the Senate from having a strong enough majority to confirm someone willing and able to properly cut this Gordian knot.
Funny how a supposedly non-political investigation had to wait until after the elections to begin writing their final report. I mean, I could understand waiting until after the elections to release it. But if you start writing immediately after the elections, it sort of suggests that you needed to know the outcome of those elections to determine what you would write.
What follows is my own summary of key information from the interview, but I urge you to listen to the whole interview at a minimum.
George was working (unknowingly) for an CIA-FBI front group. His employers set up the meeting with Mifsud (the supposed Russian agent) in a facility in Rome used to train western intelligence agents. The person who set up the meeting is the FBI's chief legal counsel in the UK. The people introducing Mifsud's companion as "Putin's niece" (she's not) were Director-level positions at the center, meaning they are all in the scheme.
George speculates (based on two news sources contacting him to ask about it) that there was a FISA warrant on him. That would be an explosive bombshell revelation, because we have only heard about the FISA warrant on Carter Page so far.
George describes traveling to Israel and being arrested and interrogated about social media campaign influence in the US. "Arrested" is perhaps an understatement; he said he was afraid for his life. (These were the people who gave him $10K intended to entrap him on returning to the US; George also suspects the bills were marked).
George describes a number of people offering him money and introducing him to women ("honeytraps"). One of them offered him $30K/mo and an office in New York... if he worked simultaneously for the Trump administration. That guy set up a lot of behavioral red flags and was recording the conversation. Papadopoulos refused the offer.
One of the honeytraps is named "Azra Turk" (a Turkish national). George suspects she is a CIA or western intelligence asset rather than FBI, which would also expand the scandal.
George describes a number of times when he was probably recorded, at least one in a meeting with Halper, and refuses to cooperate and asks to be left alone.
George describes his meeting with Australian ambassador Downer. It also included Downer's "girlfriend" an Australian intelligence officer. It was not a chance meeting, it was orchestrated. And George thinks that conversation was being recorded, and says emails did not come up during that conversation at all. George says that is false. George also says neither of the participants were drunk (one drink each) and that it was not a friendly meeting.
George says there was someone inside the Trump campaign acting as a confidential source and probably feeding information out to the FBI. Congress knows who they are. Hopefully the rest of the world will find out soon as the truth of this whole operation comes out.
Who, or what, is the second source and why is it explosive?
We know about foreign intelligence helping out already, but we don't have official confirmation. And "key allies" practically begged Trump not to declassify, so something related to foreign intelligence is probably hiding behind the redactions. But what are the specifics?
It's amazing that it takes pressure from Congress, pressure from the President, and pressure from the legal system via groups like Judicial Watch to get these documents. It's almost like the FBI and DOJ, including the people making the decisions about what to release and what to withhold or redact, have something to hide.
Google openly opposed Trump, supported Hillary during campaign
I'm honestly not sure what the rules are here. This is clearly a lot more campaign-related than paying off a bimbo eruption, and it's not a person but a corporation doing it. And we have email proof not only that it happened, but that it was motivated to help one candidate rather than being non-partisan. Does that matter?
Read the whole article for more, including hints of a smart-phone-based voter record that "aggregates all that is known about them".
I'm skeptical about campaign finance regulation as a matter of principle, but there are all sorts of other potential issues here, including user privacy and abuse of a dominant market position.
Congressman Meadows sends letter demanding Ohr investigation
Not much actual news here; a Congressman sending a letter happens pretty often. But the demand to investigate Bruce Ohr and his involvement in Spygate is significant, as it indicates growing Congressional discontent with AG Sessions and John Huber, the prosecutor Sessions appointed to investigate Spygate. We have heard basically nothing about Huber's investigation so far, which could be good or bad; hearing nothing could mean there are no leaks or it could mean there is no activity to leak. Finding out that Ohr had not yet been interviewed when he testified to Congress on these matters appears to indicate that the needle is pointing more towards no activity to leak.
Apparently, it's because Jerome Corsi is connected to Roger Stone. Stone is an associate of Trump, apparently, and works with the National Enquirer. I assume this is Mueller following up on Cohen's guilty plea to "campaign finance" charges that involved shell corporations and payoffs to bimbo eruptions.
I use the term advisedly. Clinton was credibly alleged to have groped and even raped people, although his most famous affair with Lewinsky was consensual. Trump has been accused of having consensual sex and paying the women to keep quiet about it. When they don't, that's a bimbo eruption. Sorry, Stormy.
In any event, the odds that either Jerome Corsi or Roger Stone have anything to do with Russian collusion to influence the 2016 election -- which is Mueller's only area of authority -- seems very low. Mueller is likely looking for more "campaign finance" crimes he can use to coerce guilty pleas that purport to implicate Trump. And he wants those because he desperately needs leverage.
The Obama admin stripped a Trump-supporting Pentagon analyst of his security clearance after the analyst complained about contracts with one Stefan Halper.
We are now pretty sure what Halper was doing for the money. He was trying to rig the election. And the White House stripped his clearances to shut him up -- both in general, and to prevent him accessing anything Halper was doing with his clearances.
Never mind that the other person he complained about was Chelsea Clinton.
Articles of Impeachment introduced against... Rosenstein?
The only problem with the idea of impeaching Rosenstein is that the Senate will never vote to convict. That said, a vote to impeach in the House would give Trump political cover to remove Rosenstein without being credibly accused of obstruction of justice. ("I don't want anyone in my administration who has been impeached by the House" is an entirely justifiable reason for firing Rosenstein). Similar rules can be applied to lower level officials with a simple majority in the House; the Senate might need some fiddling but putting the rule in a reconciliation bill should let it through with a simple majority. And the principle would be a significant step towards accountability when the President is, unfortunately, politically hamstrung by a conspiracy against him among his own officials.
Trump tower meeting a nothingburger, says translator for Veselnitskaya
We don't have to take just his word for it. Remember, Fusion GPS was taking money from Russians to lobby Trump about the Magnitsky Act even as they were taking money from Hillary to "investigate" Trump. They could kill two birds with one stone by setting up a meeting with Trump Jr under false pretenses of providing dirt on Hillary and using it to try to sell Trump Jr on the Magnitsky act changes they wanted.
McConnell is one of the "gang of eight" Brennan briefed about the operation. Of course he wasn't surprised; he's heard it all before, at least assuming Brennan's individual briefings to each Gang of 8 member actually contained the same information. (I'm skeptical about that; why brief them individually then?)
So I'm not surprised that McConnell isn't surprised. McConnell is a swamp creature. The sooner he circles the drain, the better.
Despite the White House chief of staff showing up before the meeting to state the President's position that all possible information should be shared, the FBI and DOJ are still covering things up.
Of course this is what Mueller is going to do. There was never any doubt. Right before the election, he delivers his big indictments (or his report, if he can't actually get anything solid enough to indict), setting up a "blue wave" in the House followed immediately by impeachment hearings that last two more years and culminate in an impeachment vote immediately before the 2020 presidential election.
Derailing that won't be easy, but throwing Clinton and Obama and their minions in jail for abusing the national security infrastructure to steal a national election might just do it.
Remember all the news stories about how Trump didn't have a foreign policy team and asking who his foreign policy advisers were? The questions from the media that prompted Trump to prepare a list of advisers hastily and get it out there?
I wonder how many of those news stories could be traced back to Hillary and her campaign?
Technically, Mueller doesn't have to care about public mockery and derision. But being taken seriously is the only defense he has against Trump simply choosing to fire him. It seems likely being forced to drop the charges against the Russians would effectively end Mueller's probe, being an admission that he doesn't have anything related to his mandate. If he failed to do so, Trump would easily be able to afford the political cost of firing him.
His memo was about Comey's firing and what Rosenstein claimed Trump asked him to include in the memo. He gave the memo to Mueller. This appears to be part of a consistent pattern among the Obama administration holdovers and specifically the scheme team implicated in Spygate.
Most of the discussion of spying has been about Carter Page, because the FBI filed for a FISA warrant to spy on him based mostly on the Clinton-funded opposition research Steele dossier. But he's not the only direct individual victim. He's just the one we have the (obviously fraudulent and deficient) paperwork for. The others we know have been spied on via leaks, but not what legal justification was used.
Michael Flynn may have been intercepted talking to the Russian ambassador. It would be legal to wiretap the Russian ambassador pretty much constantly. But they waved BS Logan act violations around when he was the issue, which makes me think they got a warrant based on those allegations.
The rest we just don't know.
And don't forget the hundreds of "unmaskings" which are technically within the powers of some officials, but which were likely done in service of political motives.
House resolution to compel Rosenstein to release SpyGate documents
Gowdy and Ryan have previously expressed support for the FBI's position here, but Ryan is part of the Gang of 8 who would see them anyway (and who was probably briefed on at least some of the investigation earlier than the rest of Congress, so is somewhat tainted by it). Gowdy is probably just a blowhard who is easily talked into supporting law enforcement.
But the article says Jordan and Meadows spoke with Ryan and Gowdy before this announcement, so I assume they are behind it.
If so, let's hold the vote ASAP and force the FBI to start submitting to oversight. They have slow-walked long enough.
As for Ryan and Gowdy, both, apparently, have closets with flesh-challenged bones in them. Not really a surprise.
Note to Congress: start playing hardball. Appealing to Trump won't do much; he cant really interfere much while Mueller is active. It's up to Congress and oversight to get the information out there to help Huber.
Note to the DOJ: When you are denying that your official threatened Congressmen conducting legitimate oversight, it is not wise to repeat the threat:
As far as I am concerned, this is clear and unambiguous grounds for Trump to fire Rosenstein, and I wouldn't be surprised if that is exactly why it leaked.
Not said: the "someone working with Russians" is Christopher Steele, and he admitted paying Russians for the information compiled in the dossier. So, yes, Hillary (through several layers of cutouts) paid Russians to (probably) lie about Trump to produce opposition research. Probably the Hillary campaign, through Steele and Fusion GPS, were paying the Russians to cooperate in setting up the Trump campaign -- specifically the meeting with Veselnitskya.
The fact that Mueller, whose theoretical remit includes Russian interference in the US election, is not investigating this publicly known Russian collusion with the Hillary campaign is enough by itself to discredit his investigation.
The Democrats are hoping they can keep a lid on this until November, then win the House and shut down the investigations. Agents are probably right to fear massive retaliation, both political and personal.
What Mueller appears to be claiming is that he received his full mandate as special counsel from Rosenstein exclusively in verbal communications, meaning that only Rosenstein and Mueller together could agree on what was within or without the scope of the investigation.
I do not see how such a claim could possibly be valid or stand up to legal challenge.
Mueller is essentially claiming that, due to the lack of a written mandate, his authority derives from Rosenstein the man rather than the lawfully appointed (Acting) Attorney General. His unwritten mandate is fluid, and can change to meet the needs of the moment he finds himself in.
This is not consistent with the rule of law.
But of course, Rosenstein couldn't risk giving Mueller a well-defined mandate, because Mueller was going on a fishing expedition; he didn't know what he would find, but to be politically useful, he had to pursue whatever he found.
Review of Cohen's seized files not going well for prosecution
Remember, if it's privileged, the government should never have been able to see it at all. A warrant doesn't get around attorney-client privilege, the bar is much higher than that. And if it's not privileged, that doesn't mean it is in any way criminal. It just means the government got a warrant and can legally look at it and use the material.
FBI to share more details of informant with Congress?
I'll believe it when the members of Congress release the information publicly.
If you want to see the evidence, Ryan, you have to actually look at it.
So here's the catch: Halper didn't work on the Trump campaign. He only met with at least three members of the campaign, pumped them for information, and applied for a job with the campaign that he did not get.
So Halper -- who probably works for the CIA, not the FBI -- was certainly engaged in intelligence gathering from the Trump campaign. He was certainly spying on the campaign. If he was not "an informant within the campaign", it wasn't for lack of trying.
McCabe requests criminal immunity in return for testimony
Should he get it? I will answer in six words. "The White House is running this." Except that McCabe has already been fired for lying to the FBI, so whether his testimony can be trusted is open to question.
I'd like to know what McCabe knows and who he can implicate, but this should be a plea bargain, not an immunity deal.
Even assuming he actually was colluding with Israel -- which I don't actually assume, other than hypothetically -- this is a long ways away from colluding with Russia. And Mueller's brief only covers colluding with Russia.
At some point, you have to stop Mueller from charging people with made-up crimes unrelated to his limited special counsel mandate just to get leverage.
And before saying Trump should just start pardoning people, there's an argument that's what Mueller wants. While there's an active investigation Mueller can claim was being "obstructed", Trump would be wise to avoid any directly connected pardons. Not because use of the pardon power could be criminal obstruction of justice, but because Mueller would certainly describe it that way to Congress in an impeachment report.
I don't know if Papadopoulos was colluding with Israel, or Russia, or anyone at all. I do know that Dan Bongino's show from June 5th, 2018, floated the interesting idea that Papadopoulos was arrested in a hurry -- without even getting a warrant ahead of time -- on the same day the IG notified Mueller's team of the text messages from Peter Strzok and Lisa Page, and also that Papadopoulos mentioned the "Maltese Professor" Mifsud before being very vigorously told to shut up. Bongino speculates that Mifsud was the push component, trying to put information about Hillary's emails from Russians into the Trump campaign, so that Halper and others could try to pull the information out and use it against Trump.
If that read is accurate, Papadopoulos was arrested to shut him up so that the information about Mifsud and the entrapment side of the operation would stay quiet.
I don't think it's going to stay quiet. I think it's out there now, and the effort to shut Papadopoulos up was too little too late.
John Solomon, of The Hill, has two pieces of supposedly breaking news about Spygate. The only thing actually new in his breaking news is the justifications and excuses his sources are offering to try to spin the story.
The first is that the FBI began spying on the Trump campaign before the investigation had an official predicate:
That's not so much a scoop as an admission. We've known that the investigation, including the actions by the spy Halper, took place earlier than July, and that the investigation supposedly started in July. There have been efforts to try to push the date backwards, but those have now failed; Solomon's sources appear to be admitting the approaches by Halper started before the official investigation was opened, and that that was a violation of the the rules.
But it's also there to conceal the big admission: the Obama White House was involved.
Those words (bolded above) were redacted in the original release, if I remember correctly. And the spin is where Solomon says the White House was trying to take over the investigation. That's not what the message says. The White House is running this. Not trying to, and being rebuffed by loyal nonpartisan FBI agents. Is Running.
In other words, we have documentary evidence (and likely testimony from Page and Strzok as cooperating witnesses, at a minimum) that the political spying on Trump was run from the White House, and Rice's email to herself demonstrates that it was run right from the top -- Obama himself. Mind you, Rice was trying to cover for him by saying Obama told them to do it all "by the book". But the evidence is that the FBI, CIA, NSA, and others did not do it "by the book". The evidence makes Rice's email a transparently self-serving cover story. It also exposes as a lie Ben Rhodes' claim in his book that Obama did not know about the investigation until he left office. Oops; in their hurry to cover their own ass they forget to coordinate their stories.
Unless Obama left a paper trail of secret pardons on his way out the door, people will be going to jail for this.
But Mueller can't admit that (if he even knows) because it would destroy the Russian collusion narrative. The DNC email "hack" is the black hole that the whole scandal revolves around without ever shedding any light.
That's where the sudden need for a FISA warrant came from. Most likely, if the Obama administration (following Mike Roger's audit) had simply dropped the issue, punished the contractors, and let the election happen normally, it would have all been swept under the carpet. Instead, they doubled down, got their FISA warrant under false pretenses, and tried to use it to cover up their past activities and make sure Trump lost.